The Most Popular Wood for Cutting Boards
There are a number of different types of wood available for furniture making however the two common woods are: softwoods and hardwoods. The name softwood does not mean the wood is softer or less dense, similarly the name hardwood does not mean the wood is harder. The two types of wood differ botanically and not by their appearance. In simpler words, hardwood comes from deciduous trees which will eventually lose its leaves whereas softwood comes from conifer that remains evergreen.
Now, we know the difference between soft and hardwood, let us look into maple wood now. Maple wood is of two types as well; hard maple and soft maple. However maple is commonly characterized as hardwood.
Types of materials used in cutting boards
There are various types of cutting boards available in the market. Some common materials are wood, plastic and composite material (combination of resin and types of wood fibers). Although plastic cutting boards are easier to clean and sanitize as compared to the wooden ones, however research has shown how wooden cutting boards are safer to use in the long run due to its sanitary properties. Moreover, plastic cutting boards will get scars fairly quickly if being used on a daily basis Another important advantage wooden kitchen boards has over plastic ones is that they wooden boards provide more life to the knives.
Why is maple popular wood for cutting boards?
Wooden boards have many different varieties as well such as walnut, maple, cherry and teak. However, maple is considered to be the most popular wood for cutting boards. Let us look into the reasons why maple is more popular as compared to other types of wood.
- Easily available: Maple trees are commonly found in all parts of the world with over a hundred species of maple trees some of which are sugar maple, red maple, Japanese maple, silver maple e.g.
- Sanitary nature: Maple is considered to be one of the most clean and sanitary suitable wood for kitchen boards. The national sanitation foundation has approved maple suitable for kitchen use. These wooden boards use capillary action to ingest bacteria and tiny bugs from the surface of the board. The bacteria, once trapped in the wood’s cells, it will block any oxygen that the bacteria needs for surviving and will eventually suffocate the bacteria to death.
- Affordable: as compared to other species of wood such as walnut and pecan, maple is inexpensive and easily affordable.
- Sustainable and renewable: Maple is easily regenerated from either seedlings or re-growth of the trunk stock. A maple tree will take about 30 years to grow to maturity which is way earlier than other varieties of trees. Hence the supply of maple never falls too short and it can easily meet its demand.
- More durable: As maple is a hardwood it is more durable in nature. It has a higher density as compared to the softwoods, making it more durable. Maple has fairly tiny pores as compared to oak and other trees. Large pores will retain bacteria in the cutting boards and may also cause water logging. As maple has tiny pores, water logging will not take place and the tiny pores make its surface smoother as compared to other woods.
- Food safe: all types of woods are not safe to use in the kitchen especially as a kitchen board. This is because some types of wood are toxic in nature and their contact with food must be avoided. For example rosewood is a type of wood that discharges oil and people are usually sensitive to such oils.
For all these above mentioned reasons, maple wood is considered to be the best and by far the most popular type of wood to be used in kitchen boards.
Other uses of maple wood
Apart from being used in making cutting boards for the kitchen, maple wood has numerous other uses as well. It is used to make furniture, floor works, cabinets, dressers and so on. Maple is widely used in all these aspects, because it is fairly easy to maintain. Maple flooring once done, all you will need to maintain is sweeping with wood soap or mopping. Moreover maple wood has a very beautiful and intriguing color which can adapt well with the color palette of your choice. Hence maple furniture will always compliment your drawing room. Maple is also considered to be one of the hardest types of woods due to which it is commonly used in making cabinets and furniture.
Drawbacks of maple wood
There are a lot of advantages of maple wood however with many advantages come a few disadvantages as well. One disadvantage of maple wood is that as the grain is fairly smooth, there may appear scratches or marks which will be easily visible by a naked eye. On maple floors, there is a chance that heel marks will show as well if the marks/scratches are large. This is because the color of the wood is comparatively light hence you will need to polish the floor or use compound wax to get rid of the marks. Another issue with maple wood is humidity issue; with an increase or decrease in humidity, the maple flooring will either start shrinking or expanding and will even cause cracks. Although the flooring will shift to its original position once the humidity levels have fallen to normal however this might cause permanent damage in the long term. Maple wood might also start decolorising with time if there is a constant or permanent exposure to the sun however all solid woods will eventually start to decolour so care must be taken when using solid wood for furniture making etc.
After considering various types of woods and looking in depth the pros and cons of maple wood as compared to other types of wood, we do believe that maple is the most popular type of wood used in kitchen boards.